What should precede baptism?

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By BibleAsk Team


Baptism holds a significant place in Christian theology, symbolizing spiritual rebirth, cleansing from sin, and initiation into the body of Christ. However, before undergoing this sacred sacrament, individuals are called to prepare themselves spiritually, intellectually, and emotionally. This preparation involves a deepening of faith, repentance from sin, and an understanding of the significance of baptism within the Christian tradition. This exploration delves into the essential elements that should precede baptism, drawing insights from scripture, theological reflection, and practical considerations.

I. Faith in Jesus Christ:

  1. Confession of Faith:

Central to the preparation for baptism is a genuine confession of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Scripture teaches that belief in Jesus is essential for salvation, as expressed in Jesus’ own words: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:16). Therefore, individuals seeking baptism should profess their faith in Jesus Christ and acknowledge Him as the Son of God who died for their sins and rose again.

Scriptural Reference: Romans 10:9-10 – “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

  1. Understanding the Gospel:

Preparation for baptism also involves a thorough understanding of the gospel message – the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ. This includes knowledge of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, as well as an awareness of the significance of His atoning sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins. Through study and reflection on scripture, individuals deepen their understanding of the gospel and its transformative power in their lives.

Scriptural Reference: 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 – “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.”

II. Repentance and Forgiveness of Sins:

  1. Repentance:

Repentance is a foundational aspect of spiritual preparation for baptism, as it involves a turning away from sin and a turning towards God. Jesus proclaimed, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17), emphasizing the importance of genuine contrition and a desire to live in accordance with God’s will. Individuals preparing for baptism are called to examine their hearts, confess their sins, and seek forgiveness through repentance.

Scriptural Reference: Acts 2:38 – “Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'”

  1. Forgiveness of Sins:

Baptism is closely associated with the forgiveness of sins, as it symbolizes the cleansing and renewal that occur through the grace of God. The apostle Peter declared, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38), highlighting the connection between repentance, baptism, and the forgiveness of sins. Through baptism, individuals experience the washing away of their sins and are reconciled to God.

Scriptural Reference: Acts 22:16 – “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.”

III. Instruction and Discipleship:

  1. Teaching and Discipleship:

Preparation for baptism involves instruction in the foundational teachings of the Christian faith and ongoing discipleship in the Christian life. Jesus commanded His disciples to “make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20). Therefore, individuals preparing for baptism should receive comprehensive instruction in Christian doctrine, ethics, and practices.

Scriptural Reference: Matthew 28:19-20 – “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

  1. Spiritual Growth and Maturity:

Baptism marks the beginning of a lifelong journey of spiritual growth and maturity in Christ (Sanctification). The apostle Paul urged believers to “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4) following their baptism, indicating the transformative nature of the Christian experience. Therefore, individuals preparing for baptism should be encouraged to cultivate spiritual disciplines, participate in Christian community, and seek opportunities for service and ministry.

Scriptural Reference: Romans 6:4 – “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”

IV. Commitment to Christian Biblical Community:

  1. Membership in the Body of Christ:

Baptism signifies initiation into the body of Christ – the Biblical community of believers united in faith and fellowship. These believers are described as “those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus” (Revelation 14:12; 12:17). The apostle Paul likened the church to a body, with each member playing a vital role in its functioning and growth (1 Corinthians 12:12-27). Therefore, individuals preparing for baptism should understand the importance of active participation in Biblical Christian community and the responsibilities that accompany membership in the body of Christ.

Scriptural Reference: 1 Corinthians 12:13 – “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.”

  1. Support and Accountability:

Baptismal candidates should be surrounded by a supportive community of faith that provides encouragement, guidance, and accountability. The book of Hebrews exhorts believers to “consider one another in order to stir up love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24-25), emphasizing the mutual responsibility of Christians to edify and strengthen one another in their spiritual journey. Therefore, individuals preparing for baptism should seek out opportunities for fellowship, mentoring, and mutual support within the Christian community.

Scriptural Reference: Hebrews 10:24-25 – “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Conclusion:

In conclusion, preparation for baptism encompasses a holistic process of spiritual formation, repentance, instruction, and commitment to Christian community. Before undergoing this sacred sacrament, individuals are called to profess their faith in Jesus Christ, repent of their sins, receive instruction in Christian doctrine, and commit to a life of discipleship and service. Baptism marks the beginning of a transformative journey of faith, characterized by spiritual growth, maturity, and active participation in the body of Christ. As believers embark on this journey, may they be guided by the grace of God and empowered by the Holy Spirit to live out their baptismal vows with integrity and devotion.

Scriptural Reference: Colossians 2:12 – “buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.”

Check out our Bible Answers page for more information on a variety of topics.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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